Braised Lamb Shanks with Tom


If you want to ensure that a piece of meat is both tender and flavorful, you can't do better than braising. This recipe is brought to us by Tom Valenti, owner and executive chef of New York's Ouest restaurant, who likes to serve the lamb on a bed of soft polenta.


  • 6 lamb fore shanks (about 1 pound each)

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 2 medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped

  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

  • ½ cup tomato paste

  • 2 cups red wine

  • 1 cup white wine

  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

  • 3 anchovy fillets

  • 1 whole head garlic, cut in half

  • cup white vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 cups Tom Valenti's Veal Stock, or 1 cup demi-glace

  • 2 cups Tom Valenti's Chicken Stock

  • Tom Valenti's Soft Polenta


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. With a sharp knife, cut about 1 inch from the bottom (narrow end) of the shank bones down to the bone and all the way around; this will help expose the bone while cooking. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

  2. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add lamb, and sear until brown all over, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pot, and set aside.

  3. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat. Add celery, carrot, and onion, and cook until soft and beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook about 3 minutes more. Stir in red and white wine, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, anchovies, garlic, vinegar, and sugar. Increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol. Add veal and chicken stocks.

  4. Add lamb and return to a boil. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook for 1 hour. Uncover and cook until meat is very tender, turning the shanks over every half hour, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more.

  5. Remove shanks from braising liquid; strain the liquid and discard the solids. Skim any fat that rises to the surface and use the liquid as a sauce. Spoon some polenta onto a serving plate. Top with a lamb shank. Spoon sauce around plate and serve immediately.

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